As someone who is actively involved with registering voters in our country, I have some thoughts on what Jagdeep Singh Deo said about automatic voter registration.
- Automatic Registration using MyKAD
“voter registration exercises were outdated as Malaysians now have MyKads that contained all necessary information.”
This I will need to agree with. We have put in so much information and security into the MyKAD that it does not make sense not to. Our National Registration Department (NRD) has all the necessary information in their database and they already share this with their counterparts in the Elections Commission (EC). All voter registration needs to be done using the exact information in the MyKAD. If we registered a different address than the one on the MyKAD, the registration would actually be rejected by the EC. So, it does not make sense not to just put all the information into the EC database directly. In fact, with the right software in place, all the work of sorting out constituencies will be automated too. It just makes perfect economic sense to do it.
- Compulsory Voting
“In some countries, voting is compulsory and eligible voters who do not vote are penalised.”
This I cannot agree with. I am a strong believer in personal liberty. We cannot and must never force someone to vote. If that person has no interest in voting and makes no effort in understanding the issues, that person should not be encouraged to vote. Voting should ideally be done by informed voters – people who know enough about issues to form an opinion and then go out to express that opinion at the ballot box. We must never compel someone to vote. It will just ruin the outcome of the votes because these people would end up voting based on some random thing like gender, race, religion and whether or not the candidate wore white on polling day. Garbage-in, garbage-out is the term to describe the outcome of such an election where voters voted randomly.
- Reduced Voting Age
“If we are serious about becoming a truly developed and international class country, we should seriously consider reducing the age of voting eligibility to 18.”
This is another thing that I cannot agree to simply because, I do not think that we should draw the line at any arbitrary number such as 18. If our criteria is that people should be mature enough to think and decide on issues, then I don’t understand the rationale for picking the number 18 since kids these days are so mature that they can probably tell you the right thing to do at the age of 15 or younger. I think that voting age should be drawn along the lines of – if you are old enough to be affected by the decisions made by silly politicians, you should be allowed to vote. But this would not be practical as babies would fall into this category. So, maybe a more practical solution would be to allow anyone who is old enough to work to vote. Their jobs would be directly affected by the decisions made by politicians and they should have the right to express their grievances.
Anyway, if you have not yet registered to vote, please do so tomorrow. You can request a form from any post office in the country. It is a fairly straight-forward form to fill – you just need to be careful about entering the information exactly as found on your MyKAD. Then, wait about 4-6 months and check your registration status at the SPR website. If you have successfully registered, you will see the information online.
Finally, when it comes time for the general elections, please check online for your exact voting station. There will not be any letter or notice sent out to you officially. Just go online and check for the information. Turn out to vote as your employer cannot deny you the right to cast your vote. In fact, drag your employer along with you!
PS: You can find me at a certain pasar malam every week, shouting and signing up voters on the spot. I am doing it because I see it as a civic duty, personally.